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Things to do in Havana, Cuba: Activities for every tourist

by Pilar Dujan | October 10, 2023
The Capitolio with a Cuban flag

Havana is the capital of Cuba and home of most of what to do in Cuba, like the Plaza de la Revolución or the iconic Malecón. But where is Havana? The city is located in the north-eastern sector of the island, on the coast of the Florida Strait. 

Join us to discover the best things to do in Havana, Cuba! But first, remember: you’re going to need a Cuban tourist card to enter the country.

El Museo de la Revolución

Visiting the Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution) is one of the essential things to do in Havana, Cuba. It offers visitors valuable insight into the causes for the revolution and how it succeeded, one of the best places to learn about the recent history of the country.

Built between 1909 and 1920, it was originally an opulent presidential palace, but it became a museum in 1974. In 2010, it was designated a National Monument due to its invaluable collection pertaining to the Cuban Revolution.

Two of the most famous pieces of the museum are one of the tanks personally used by Fidel Castro during the pivotal battles of the Bay of Pigs and the yacht “Granma”, boarded by the revolutionaries to arrive in Cuba from Mexico, marking the beginning of the revolution that would change history. 

Plane from the revolution in the Museo de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba

Ride the Hershey Train

Cuba feels like a land stuck in time, like a visit to the past. This entry of the things to do in Havana is a perfect example why. 

Take the opportunity to hop on the last operating electric train in Cuba, which goes from Havana to Matanzas. This railway was originally established to transport sugar for Hershey's chocolates in the 1940s.

La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio is probably the most famous of all the bars in Havana. In fact, rumor has it that it’s where the mojito was invented! It’s also said to have been Ernest Hemingway’s favorite haunt, one of Cuba’s most notorious inhabitants. 

Why that particular name (“The little bodega in the middle”)? Well, it’s quite literal: it was a bodega that, unlike its counterparts nestled in corners or along the street's edges, was right in the middle of a street. It’s now a restaurant, but the name has endured.

It’s common for its visitors to leave behind their mark on the walls of the place in the form of photographs or graffiti. Despite the large number of tourists that flock to this famous place, inside you will get the chance to immerse yourself in the quintessential Cuban vibe.

See the ballet at Havana’s Gran Teatro

Did you know that Cuba is one of the leading forces in the world of ballet? It has played a pivotal role in the development of the discipline! 

One of the best things to do in Havana and Cuba as a whole is enjoying a ballet performance at the Gran Teatro located in the capital, a magnificent concert hall. You should at least see it from the outside, even if you’re not into this artform: the beauty of this theater is worth the detour.

Gran Teatro or Grand Theater, Havana, Cuba

Fábrica de Arte Cubano

This staple of Havana’s cultural scene features art exhibitions, film screenings and it even houses a nightclub! 

It’s the perfect choice of the things to do in Havana, Cuba for those interested in the trendy and youthful side of the country.

Stroll through Old Havana

Looking to experience the most authentic Cuban atmosphere? You just need to wander through Old Havana (Habana Vieja)

Havana Vieja, the oldest district of the capital, is also the most true to what you expect of a country like Cuba. You don’t need a car: it’s best appreciated by walking around, listening and observing the locals. Don’t be scared by the appearance of decay: it’s the signature of Old Havana.

In the vicinity of the bay of Havana you can find the Monte de las Banderas, composed of 138 masts proudly flying the Cuban flag. What makes this place special? The fact that they stand directly in front of the United States Embassy, where screens used to show propaganda against the Cuban government. The flags were then placed to obstruct the view of these screens (clever Cubans!). Nowadays, the flags are only raised on special occasions.

Vintage cars in Old Havana

Castillo de los Tres Reyes (Castle of the Three Kings)

The Castillo del Morro or Castillo de los Tres Reyes (Castle of the Three Kings) is one of the most famous things to do in Havana. It was used as a fortress, and restoration and preservation efforts began in the 1990s. It’s still in use today, but in a different way: its halls serve as an art gallery. 

Try to visit the castle around 9 o’clock to hear the iconic cannon shot: it’s an old tradition dating back to the late 17th century when Havana, frequently targeted by pirates and corsairs, would close the gates of its surrounding walls. The announcement was made by a cannon shot and the tradition still survives, executed by soldiers clad in period attire.

You can reach the castle by bus, taxi or with the “Lanchita de Regla”, which crosses the bay in just 5 minutes.

Havana’s Malecón

If you search the internet for pictures of Havana, chances are you will see a lot of the Malecón. It’s a six-lane avenue accompanied by an extensive seawall stretching along the entire northern coast of the Cuban capital. It goes on for 8 km!

Of course, it’s main role is water containment, but it also serves as a focal point for both tourists and locals alike: it’s a meeting place for everybody. Street vendors regularly traverse the length of the Malecón selling food and/or drinks.

The Malecón is one of the things to do in Havana

The Havana Cathedral

Havana’s majestic Cathedral, called the “Catedral de la virgen María de la Concepción Inmaculada” in Spanish, features a Baroque facade and two bell towers. Within you can find objects of note like several tombs of illustrious figures, relics and tabernacles. 

It’s located in a square that shares a name with the cathedral, where you can also find mansions of the colonial Havana nobility. Among these, the Palace of the Marquis of Arcos, the mansion of the Marquis of Aguas Claras and the residence of the Counts of Casa Bayona (dating back to 1720) are particularly noteworthy. Today, the latter serves as the Museum of Colonial Art.

Havana’s Castillo de la Real Fuerza

In the Bay of Havana you can find the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force of Havana), one of the main things to do in Havana, Cuba. This military fortress boasts the honor of being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The location of the castle worked against its main purpose: since it was built deep within the entrance of Havana Bay, it failed to deter and protect the city from attacks by corsairs, pirates, and enemies of the Spanish crown.

Plaza de la Revolución

You can’t travel to Havana and not visit the Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square), one of the most emblematic images representing post-revolutionary Cuba. It was a gathering place for the Cuban people on significant days, and also used by Fidel Castro to address the people.

This is also the square housing the Monument to José Martí. Fun fact: with its 112 meters it’s the tallest point in the city. At the monument's base lies the José Martí Memorial, with his statue composed of 52 marble blocks, standing at a height of 18 meters.

Across from the square is the Ministry of the Interior, featuring the iconic relief image of Che Guevara along with the famous phrase "Hasta la victoria, siempre" ("Until Victory, Always").

José Martí memorial, Plaza de la Revolución, Havana, Cuba


Would you like to share a drink with Ernest Hemingway? Then “Floridita” is the place for you. Opened in 1817, this bar rose to fame thanks to Ernest Hemingway (American journalist and writer), who was a common drinker of Floridita’s daiquiris. If you like this fruity drink, you should definitely visit this bar. And, even if you don’t, you can always go to take a picture with the life-sized bronze statue of Hemingway, who is always sitting at a corner of the bar.

The Capitolio

The Capitolio was constructed in 1929, inspired by the Pantheon in Paris, St. Paul's Cathedral in London and the United States Capitol (of which it’s almost a copy). It is located in the heart of the city, and serves as the starting point for the Cuban road network.